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^'^^^■^s^: 7 The. la^a-l \e.j'i'J^ o^Th?. VI. 'J, 

William Conway 


The Conway Celebration 

AUGUST 30, 1906 







W D 


These monuments of manhood, brave and high, 
Do more than forts or battleships to keep 

Our dear-bought liberty . They fortify 

The heart of youth with valor wise ayid deep ; 

They build eternal bulwarks, and command 

Eternal strength to guard our native land. 

— Henry Van Dyke. 


By Acting Master John O. Johnson. 



Copyright 1887, by 
The Century Co. 

THIS is the story, long forgotten, of the 
first patriot of the War of the Rebellion, 
and of the first surrender of the forces of 
the United States Navy to the rebels. I 
have reference to the disgraceful surrender 
of the United States Navy Yard, at War- 
rington, near Pensacola, Fla., January 12, 
1 86 1, which was wholly brought about by 
the traitorous acts of officers holding com- 
missions in and wearing the uniform of the 
United States Navy. It is a long and 
interesting story of which very little is 
known. I do not intend, however, to give 
it in detail — simply enough to establish the record of a patriot. 
As often happens he was a man from Maine, and he was but a 

The officers of the yard at that time were as follows : Com- 
mandant Captain James Armstrong, an old man who had served 
in the navy for more than fifty years ; he was a midshipman in 
the War of 18 12, and had recently been invalided home from the 
command of the squadron in India with chronic diarrhoea, from 
which he was a great sufferer. When he was ordered to that 
station from his home in Boston, he protested against it, saying 
that he was too old, and too feeble to be ordered to that climate. 
But his protest was without avail. He went, leaving his family 
at home, with the hope that within a few months at most he 
would again be ordered North. His only associates were the 

officers of the yard. The two officers who were nearest to him 
in rank and position, and the ones looked to for advice and coun- 
sel, were traitors to their country, though officers in the United 
States Navy, and both of them were from the North, 

The executive officer of the yard held the rank of commander. 
His name was Ebenezer Farrand, and he belonged to New 
Jersey. The next in rank was Lieutenant F. B. Renshaw, from 
Pennsylvania. These two were brothers-in-law, both their wives 
being southern women, both traitors in disguise, and both doing 
their utmost to deceive the old commandant in every possible 
way, to the end that the yard should be surrendered to the rebels 
of Florida : for be it remembered that the Confederate States 
had not yet been formed. Farrand, the executive officer, stood 
naturally nearer to the commandant than did any other person. 
He was intended to be the right arm of the commandant, and 
being a man of northern birth. Captain Armstrong could not 
bring himself to believe that an officer so circumstanced was 
doing all he could to blind his eyes and to lead him astray as to 
the real condition of affairs. But that officer was covertly play- 
ing into the hands of the secessionists every moment of the time. 

A few days before the surrender of the yard, the gunboat 
"Wyandotte," Lieutenant-Commander O. H. Berryman, arrived 
at the yard from Key West, and the store-ship " Supply," Com- 
mander Henry Walke, also arrived with stores from New York. 
Neither of these vessels amounted to much for offensive pur- 
poses, but they could have defended the yard against all offend- 
ers had they been ordered to do so. The " Supply " was on her 
way to Vera Cruz, but had called at Pensacola to land supplies. 
These were the only vessels there, and they had not been in 
port twenty-four hours before Commanders Walke and Berry- 
man, as well as their officers, began to distrust the loyalty of 
the officers of the yard, especially Farrand, and his aid and 
brother-in-law Renshaw. They saw but too plainly how com- 
pletely the venerable and perplexed commandant was in the 
hands of the traitors by whom he was surrounded, and among 
whom the northerners were the vilest of all. 

There were three forts in the vicinity of the navy yard, namely 
Forts McRee, Barrancas and Pickens, which that rebel sympa- 
thizer. Secretary of War Floyd, had prevented being reinforced. 
But on January 3, 1861, the headquarters of the army at Wash- 
ington had awakened from the lethargy that Secretary Floyd 
had purposely put upon it long enough to send an order to 
Lieutenant A. J. Slemmer of the army, who was commander of 
the three forts, to take measures to prevent either of the forts in 
Pensacola harbor from seizure by surprise or assault, consulting 
first the commandant of the navy yard, who would probably 
have instructions to co-operate with him. This order reached 
Lieutenant Slemmer January 9, but he knew very well that he 
would be unable to hold the three forts with but forty-six men, 
all the force he had. He decided to abandon Forts McRee and 
Barrancas, which were on the main land, and occupy Fort 
Pickens which was on Santa Rosa Island, at the mouth of Pen- 
sacola harbor, if it was possible for him to do so. What could 
be thought of the loyalty and intelligence of the headquarters at 
Washington which at the eleventh hour could dictate such an 
order ! 

Calling on the commandant of the navy yard immediately, 
Lieutenant Slemmer found that that officer was in receipt of 
orders from the Navy Department to co-operate with him in his 
measures of defence, and he received from him ( Armstrong ) 
the assurance of assistance in every way, including the services 
of the " Supply" and the "Wyandotte." The commandant said 
that he did not think that he could hold the navy yard if 
attacked, but promised to have Slemmer and his command, 
together with supplies and ammunition, taken over to Fort 
Pickens' at one-thirty P. M. on that day, January 9. 

But no sooner had Lieutenant Slemmer left the office than 
the treacherous Farrand slipped in, and so worked upon the 
mind of the old man that he failed to keep faith with Slemmer. 
Farrand made Armstrong believe that it would be an outrage, 
a crime, to co-operate with this young army lieutenant, and so 
provoke a bloody conflict with the Florida state troops that 

would hand down his name in perpetual execration everywhere 
throughout the country. In this strait, Lieutenant Slemmer 
again visited the commandant and remonstrated with him for his 
failure to keep his promise. Finally, in the presence of Farrand, 
Berryman and Renshaw, Captain Armstrong gave orders for the 
"Wyandotte" to be at the wharf at Barrancas at four o'clock 
P. M., on that day in readiness to transport the garrison to Fort 

Nevertheless the " Wyandotte " did not move that day. Far- 
rand had evidently gotten in his dastardly work again. His 
game was delay. He was in constant communication with the 
rebels at Pensacola, but nine miles away. He knew that within 
forty-eight hours they would demand the surrender of the navy 
yard, and he hoped the way to occupy Fort Pickens would be 
opened also. At eight o'clock the next morning, which was the 
tenth. Lieutenant John Irwin of the " Wyandotte " went to Fort 
Barrancas with a big scow, which the army folks at once loaded 
with provisions and ammunition, brought together all the other 
boats they could collect, without orders from the commandant, and 
towed them all across the harbor to Fort Pickens ; Lieutenant- 
Commander Berryman also transferred from his ship to the fort 
thirty ordinary seamen and thirty stand of arms. At this time 
the old captain, under the malign influence that he could not 
escape, and distracted by the complications surrounding him, 
began to give such erratic and contradictory orders that Com- 
mander Walke of the " Supply" and Lieutenant-Commander 
Berryman of the "Wyandotte" made up their minds that their 
principal business was to co-operate with Lieutenant Slemmer 
of the army in making Fort Pickens secure from the attack of 
the rebels. 

On the day of the occupation of Fort Pickens, Lieutenant 
Erben, of the ''Supply," now Rear-Admiral Erben (retired), 
went down to Fort McRee with a boat's crew from the " Sup- 
ply," and threw into the sea all the powder stored there, to 
prevent its falling into the hands of the rebels. Twenty-two 
thousand pounds were thus destroyed. When he returned from 


that duty Lieutenant Erben went on shore in the evening, 
called at the commandant's house and reported what he had 
done, and as the navy yard was being threatened by the rebel 
troops at Pensacola, volunteered to destroy the ammunition in 
the naval magazine located a short distance outside the navy 

Captain Armstrong sent for Farrand, to advise with him in 
relation to the matter. That officer immediately advised the 
arrest of Erben and sending him on board ship, asserting that 
he ( Erben ) was drunk. But this the commandant refused to 
do. At this Farrand rose up in great rage, and throwing a 
chair at Erben's head, left the room in great abruptness. Erben 
remained for a short time, talking with the commandant, and, 
bidding him good night, departed. The moment he got outside 
the front door Farrand, who had been lying in wait for him on 
the piazza, stepped up to him and shaking his fist in his face 
exclaimed : 

" D you, I will teach you how to treat your superior 


He was so violent that Erben caught him by the throat, 
saying : 

" D you, I will have you hanged as a traitor, as you are." 

They rolled off the piazza in their struggle, and Erben land- 
ing uppermost, Farrand began to shout for assistance. At this 
Renshaw, who had been in hiding in the shrubbery, came to 
Farrand's assistance. But Assistant Surgeon W. A. King, of 
the " Supply," who had come on shore with Erben, came up on 
Erben's side, and the two traitors, seeing a row very imminent 
in which they were likely to come out second, ran off to the 
other quarters, telling the officers' -wives that Erben intended to 
blow them all up, 

Farrand's whole conduct had been so unmistakably disloyal, 
that Erben and the other loyal officers of the navy had deter- 
mined to seize him at the first opportunity and carry him on 
board ship. Lieutenant Berry man said that he would receive 
him on board the " Wyandotte," and if necessary put him in 

the coal bunkers for safe keeping. But Farrand was too wary. 
He felt that he was suspected and obnoxious to the ofificers and 
men on board the ships, and that the best measure of personal 
safety for him was to keep away from the water front. He 
could not be induced to approach the wharf on any matter of 
duty whatsoever. Had he ventured there, he was sure to have 
been seized, and he seemed to have had such a presentiment. 
He carried things with a high hand at the upper end of the 
yard with the distracted old commandant ; but when he looked 
in the direction of the wharf, and saw the old flag under which 
he had been educated, his conscience made him a coward. 

•' He made a narrow escape," says Erben ; "for had he been 
captured he would never have got on shore again." And Lieu- 
tenant Erben goes on to say that whatever orders Captain Arm- 
strong gave for the protection of the yard, Farrand without his 
knowledge would countermand. Farrand knew the very hour 
that Victor M. Randolph would present his rebel forces at the 
gate of the navy yard, and was there to receive and welcome 
him, dressed in the full uniform of a United States naval officer ; 
while Captain Armstrong was kept in entire ignorance of the 
whole affair and did not know that the rebels were approaching 
till they were reported at the gate, and the two commissioners 
selected by the governor of Florida were conducted to him by 
Farrand. All the details of the surrender were conducted by 
Farrand, even to the punishing of the faithful old quartermaster 
for refusing to haul down the flag in surrender when ordered to 
do so by the traitor Renshaw. 

This faithful old seaman was William Conway, of Camden, 
Me. He had obeyed the order to stand by the halliards, but 
when ordered to haul down the flag in capitulation he said : "I 
will not do it, sir ! That is the flag of my country under which 
I have served many years. I love it ; and will not dishonor it 
by hauling it down now." 

Renshaw had to do the traitorous work with his own hands, 
and then he and Farrand set about punishing the old quarter- 
master by putting him in irons for his fidelity to the old flag, 


which they had dishonored while holding the commission of an 
officer in the United States Navy ; for Farrand resigned on the 
sixteenth and Renshaw on the twenty-first, after they had surren- 
dered the yard on the twelfth. Their resignations were accepted 
by the Secretary of the Navy, when they should have been dis- 
missed with dishonor and hung when caught. Erben says that 
the yard easily could have been defended, had the " Supply " 
and " Wyandotte " been ordered up to protect the approach to 
the yard, which was a road that ran for a half mile along the 
beach. As it was, the feeble old commandant was so hood- 
winked and muddled by his traitorous officers, that he surren- 
dered to a rabble of about four hundred Florida and Alabama 
troops. The two ships in the offing hoisted all the flags they 
had in defiance of the disgraceful surrender. 

In the surrendering of this navy yard, we have the very sin- 
gular and striking circumstance of a captain in the United 
States Navy acting as a commissioner, appointed by the gov- 
ernor of Florida, to receive the surrender of the property of the 
United States in the name of the State of Florida, a territory 
the United States had purchased from Spain but forty-two 
years before, and had spent millions for the protection of its 
people in the war with the Indians, known as the Florida War. 
The two commissioners appointed by the governor of Florida to 
receive the surrender of the navy yard were Colonel W. H. Chase, 
of the Florida state militia, and Captain Victor M. Randolph, of 
the United States Navy. Florida passed the ordinance of 
secession January lo, 1861. On that day Randolph sent in his 
resignation as a captain in the United States Navy, and on the 
same day was appointed a commissioner by the governor of the 
seceded State. But his resignation papers did not reach Wash- 
ington till after the surrender of the yard. 

A court martial was held at Washington on the conduct of 
Captain Armstrong in relation to his surrender of the Warring- 
ton Navy Yard, near Pensacola, Fla., on the following charges : 

I St. Failing to take the ordinary and proper measures for 
the defence of said yard and property. 

1 1 

2d. Disobedience of orders and conduct unbecoming an 

This court convened at Washington, February 8, 1861, and 
consisted of the following officers : Captain George W. Storer, 
president ; Captain Elie A. F. Lavallette and Captain Levin M. 
Powell. After a long session, Captain Armstrong was found 
guilty on both charges and was suspended for five years, half 
that time without pay. 

It was during this trial that the noble conduct of the old 
quartermaster was brought to the front, and the following report 
n relation thereto was sent to the Secretary of the Navy : 

Washington, D. C, April 3, 1861. 
The president and members and judge advocate of the court lately held 
in the City of Washington, D. C, for the trial of Commodore Armstrong,' 
beg leave respectfully to submit to the Honorable Secretary of the Navy, 
the propriety, justice and good policy of bestowing some appropriate mark 
of its approbation of the loyalty, spirit and good conduct of William Con- 
way, quartermaster of the navy on duty at the navy yard at Warrington, 
Fla., when the same was surrendered on the twelfth of January, 1861 ; who 
with manly pride and in a spirit of patriotic devotion refused to obey the 
order to haul down the national flag on the occasion of that surrender. The 
evidence of this honorable devotion to the dignity and credit of the flag of 
his country is found in the record of the testimony in Commodore Arm- 
strong's case. Respectfully submitted by order of court. 

A. B. Magruder, Judge Advocate. 

To this report Secretary Welles added these words : 

It appears from the testimony taken in Captain Armstrong's case that 
William Conway, an aged seaman, doing duty as quartermaster in the War- 
rington (Pensacola) Navy Yard at the time of its surrender, when ordered 
by Lieutenant Renshaw to haul down the national flag, promptly and indig- 
nantly refused to obey the order. The love and reverence thus impulsively 
exhibited for his country's flag in the hour of its peril is not the less worthy 
of being called noble and chivalric because displayed by one in an humble 
station. It is the more deserving of commendation, for subordinates in the 
service are not usually expected to set examples of patriotism and fidelity to 
their trusts, but to follow them. The department deems it no more than 
strict justice to William Conway that this testimonial from the court in his 

1 He is elsewhere in the papers referred to as " Captain Armstrong," and January 12, 1861, 
he signed the letter to the Secretary of the Navy announcing the surrender, " James Arm- 
strong, Captain United States Navy." 


behalf should be made known throughout the service. It therefore directs 
that this general order be publicly read, as early as practicable after its 
receipt, by the commander of all naval stations and all vessels in the navy in 
commission in the presence of the officers and men under their command. 

The following is the order of Secretary Welles to Flag 
Officer McKeen, United States Navy, commanding Gulf 
Blockading Squadron, for the transmission of a gold medal 
to Quartermaster Conway, and other communications relative 
thereto are added : 

Navy Department, November ii, 1861. 

Sir: — I herewith transmit a letter from the department to William Conway, 
who is on board one of the vessels of your squadron, together with a gold 
medal presented to him by his countrymen in California, as a testimonial of 
their appreciation of his conduct in refusing to haul down the flag of his 
country at the surrender, at Pensacola, to the rebels, on January 12, 1861. 

A copy of the letter addressed to William Conway by the citizens who 
presented the medal, and of the letter of Major-General Halleck, the bearer 
of it to the department, is also submitted. 

You will please to have the medal handed to William Conway on the 
quarter-deck of the vessel to which he belongs, in the presence of the officers 
and crew thereof, and the correspondence read at the same time. I am, 
respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Gideon Welles. 

Navy Department, November 11, 1861. 
Sir : — It 'gives me great pleasure to cause to be delivered to you the 
accompanying letter and gold medal from your countrymen in California, 
presented to you as a testimonial of their high appreciation of your noble 
and patriotic conduct in refusing to haul down the flag of your country while 
others (your superiors in position) were wanting in fidelity to it. I also for- 
ward a copy of the letter of Major-General Halleck, who was selected as the 
bearer of these testimonials, and by his request I have directed them to be 
transmitted to you — which you will please to accept with the assurance of 
my regard. Very respectfully, 

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy. 
William Conway, 

United States Gulf Blockading Squadron. 

Washington, D. C, November 6, 1861. 

Sir : — I have received from certain citizens of California the accompanying 

letter and medal, to be delivered to William Conway, quartermaster United 

States Navy, as a mark of their appreciation of his noble conduct in refusing 

to haul down the flag of his country ; but as I am unable to see Mr. Conway 


personally, I respectfully request they may be transmitted to him by the 
Navy Department. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

H. W. Halleck, Major-General United States Army. 
Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy. 

San Francisco, September 20, 1861. 
Dear Sir: — The undersigned citizens of California from New England 
have read with pride and gratification the story of your brave and patriotic 
refusal to haul down the flag of your country. As a mark of our appreciation 
of your conduct, we request you to accept the accompanying medal of 
California gold, together with our best wishes for your prosperity and hap- 
piness. F. W. Brooks, Henry L. Dodge, F. A. Fabent, H. F. Cutter, W. 
T. Reynolds, Henry F. Teschemascher, Geo. J. Brooks, Geo. H. Faulkner 
(and 140 others). 
William Conway, 

Quartermaster United States Navy. 

With such testimonials as these one would little think the 
person receiving them would be almost entirely forgotten in the 
lapse of forty-four years, but such indeed is the case. I well 
remember Conway, though I had not seen him since before the 
war. In 1858, when but a lad, I was first mate of the brig 
"Tocoa," of Rockport, Me. Captain Thomas Fitzgerald was mas- 
ter and the present Captain Ed. Harkness (if living) was second 
mate. William Conway, then termed an old man-o'-war's-man, 
was home on furlough, and having a sister living at Rockport 
( I have forgotten her name ), he was staying with her. During 
the three weeks that we were getting the vessel ready for sea we 
saw much of Conway, as he spent a large portion of his time on 
board with us. We had to take the vessel to Rockland to haul 
out on the ways, and as we had no crew shipped, he volunteered 
with others to help work the vessel round to that port. In this 
manner I came to know him very well, so that when two and 
one-half years later, he refused to haul down the flag by order 
of the traitor Renshaw, I felt that I had more than a passing 
interest in the Camden sailor, and was proud that I knew him. 
During the time between the surrender of the navy yard at 
Pensacola and the reading on board every ship in the service of 
the general orders relative to his noble conduct, I had entered 
the navy as a volunteer officer and was attached to the U. S. 


bark " Midnight," stationed as by fate's decree off Fort Pickens, 
in sight of the Pensacola Navy Yard, when this order reached 
us. At the reading of the same, with all hands at muster, and 
being the only officer from Maine, and in fact the only man on 
board ship with the exception of one ordinary seaman, from this 
state, I stretched to my utmost height and drank in patriotism 
and courage from the reading that lasted me through the four 
years that I served in the navy, helping me to make such a 
record as did not, I hope, disgrace my country, my state or my 

Many years ago I learned through some source that Conway 
was dead. How, when and where he died I did not learn, but 
presumed that he died with his people at Camden and was buried 
with his ancestors. Of late I have had a desire to visit his last 
resting-place and to stand with bowed head beside his grave. 
While on my way to the Waymouth celebration, held at Thom- 
aston, in July, 1905, I stopped off at Camden for that purpose. 
Judge of my disappointment, when I made inquiry for Conway 
in his native town, to find that no one knew of or had ever heard 
of him. 

At last I inquired of an old friend. Comrade Henry Payson, 
of Rockport, who had lived in the town for fifteen years and was 
a member of the G. A. R. Post. He had never heard of William 
Conway, but he made inquiry of an old gentleman named Ogier, 
who remembered something in relation to Conway and his his- 
tory. Mr. Payson informed me that there was a lady named 
Conway living in Camden and kindly took me to her place. 
She proved to be a niece, who told me that she and a cousin of 
hers, Mrs. Louise E. Robbins, of Thomaston, were the only 
living relatives of William Conway ; that she thought he died in 
Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1865, and that he was buried in the naval 
cemetery there, but she was not certain. She also informed me 
that the gold medal was in the possession of the other niece, 
Mrs. Robbins. 

As I stood by the beautiful monument erected in a Camden 
public square in honor of the country's defenders from that town, 


I was chagrined to learn that Conway's name, though perhaps 
•'the noblest Roman among them all," was not written there. 
The thought occurred to me, why is this ? If this same William 
Conway had been the commander of a ship in our navy, and had 
been commanded by an enemy of superior force to haul down 
the flag of his country as a token of surrender, and he had used 
the self-same words that he used at Pensacola, viz : " I will not 
do it, sir ; it is the flag of my country, under which I have sailed 
for many years and I will not dishonor it now ! " his name would 
have been sung in song and told in story down to the end of all 
time and a monument erected to perpetuate his memory. But 
being only a common sailor he died " unwept, unhonored and 
unsung," his name not even a memory in his native town. 

This should not be. The tide of oblivion should not be per- 
mitted to set in that direction. In the language of Secretary 
Welles : " The love and reverence thus impulsively exhibited for 
his country's flag in the hour of its peril is not the less worthy 
of being called noble and chivalric because displayed by one in 
an humble station," and the following words from Kipling's 
" Recessional " would seem to be fitting here : 

God of our fathers, known of old, — 

Lord of our far-flung battle line — 
Beneath whose awful hand we hold 

Dominion over palm and pine — 
Lord, God of Hosts, be with us yet, — 
Lest we forget — lest we forget. 

Far called our navies melt away. 
On dune and headland sinks the fire — 

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday 
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre ! 

Judge of our Nation, spare us yet. 

Lest we forget — lest we forget. 

I have said I was disappointed in learning that the name of 
William Conway had been forgotten in his native town. But 
on second thought it is not so surprising, for during the lapse of 
forty-four years or more the population of the thriving town of 
Camden has greatly changed, and it would be simply an impos- 
sibility for those born since the Civil War to have any personal 


remembrance of him ; while with the older residents time has 
naturally dimmed the memory. Moreover, all the official docu- 
ments relating to Conway were deposited in the Navy Depart- 
ment at Washington, where no outsider had access to them till 
within the past ten years. 

Happily in this time Congress had enacted a law for the pub- 
lication of the records of the doings of the United States Navy 
in the War of the Rebellion, and for their distribution through- 
out the land in order to show to those, who care to know, what 
the navy did. From one of these books, " The Official Records 
of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebell- 
ion," ^ I obtained my information relative to the Court of Enquiry 
before which Captain Armstrong was brought, and also the 
copies of the papers in relation to Quartermaster Conway which 
I have already read. Otherwise Conway has been allowed to 
sink out of sight ; for up to the time I dug his name out from 
under the avalanche of forgetfulness, not one word had been 
said or written in relation to him, as far as I can learn, except in a 
very short and inaccurate sketch of the affair at Pensacola cov- 
ering about one half-page in Abbott's " History of the War," 
and a few words in "The Battles and Leaders of the Civil 
War," ^ in connection with a pencil sketch of Conway by William 
Waud. From Rear-Admiral Joseph B. Coghlan, U. S. N., com- 
mandant at the Navy Yard at Brooklyn, N. Y., I learned that 
William Conway died at the naval hospital there November 30, 
1865, while still in the service, and was buried in the naval cem- 
etery at that place in a grave which cannot now be located. 

When I read Admiral Coghlan' s letter I should not have been 
more astounded had I been hit on the head with a hammer. 
For that record shows that in less than five years after Conway 
uttered those memorable words at Pensacola, refusing to dishonor 
the flag of his country by lowering it at the demand of traitors, 
and having died while still in the service of his country, at a 
home port and in a time of peace, his body was dumped into an 

1 Series i, Volume 4. 
* Volume I, page 26. 


unknown grave. For this almost criminal neglect I know not 
whom to censure. But some one blundered. 

Surely the name of this loyal American sailor should be res- 
cued from oblivion. I believe his name is fully as worthy of 
honor as is that of John Paul Jones, for while Conway was dis- 
tinctively an American, Paul Jones claimed to be a citizen of the 
world. In Conway we have a brave old American tar, who 
shifted his quid of tobacco, gave the waistbands of his trousers 
a hitch, and stood as firm as the rock of Gibraltar for one coun- 
try and one flag. For this I think his name should be placed 
on a pinnacle of fame, and what could be more fitting than to 
have this honored organization, which bears the proud title of 
the " Loyal Legion of the United States," take the first steps 
toward the erection of a suitable memorial in his honor .? For 
who is there among us who would not have been thrilled to his 
fingers' ends could he have listened to the loyal words of that 
loyal old American sailor, " I will not do it, sir ! It is the flag 
of my country under which I have sailed for many years, and I 
will not dishonor it by hauling it down now," 


AUGUST 30, 1906. 

THE reading of the preceding paper at the meeting of the 
Commandery, in Portland, December 6, 1905, awakened 
very deep interest in the members of the Commandery and their 
guests. This interest was intensified by the exhibition of the 
beautiful gold medal which was presented to William Conway on 
the deck of the U.S. frigate " Mississippi " not long after the 
Pensacola incident. Conway's niece, Mrs. Louise E. Robbins, 
of Thomaston, the present custodian of the Conway medal, had 
placed it in the hands of Companion Acting Ensign Edward A. 
Butler, of Rockland, for exhibition at the meeting. In the 
remarks that followed the reading of the paper, reference was 
made to Companion Johnson's suggestion concerning a memorial 
in Conway's honor, and it was further suggested that this memo- 
rial might take the form of a boulder, on which should be placed 
a bronze tablet reciting in brief the story of Conway's fidelity 
and patriotism ; but definite action was deferred in order to 
secure time for maturer consideration. 

Such further consideration was given to this suggestion at the 
meeting of the Commandery, held in Portland on March 7, 1906, 
and it was voted that if the town of Camden would provide a 
suitable boulder, in a conspicuous position in the town, the Maine 
Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the 
United States would place on it a bronze tablet with an appro- 
priate inscription. The town of Camden, at its annual meeting, 
acceded to this proposal, and made an appropriation of $100.00 
to defray the expenses connected with the placing of the boulder. 

At a meeting of the Maine Commandery, held in Portland on 
May 2, 1906, a like appropriation was made for the purpose of 


securing a bronze tablet, and the officers of the Commandery 
were made a committee to prepare a suitable inscription, and 
also to take charge of all matters pertaining to the tablet ; while 
with reference to the unveiling of the tablet the committee was 
directed to act in connection with a similar committee represent- 
ing the town of Camden. 

Not long after, the Recorder of the Commandery visited Cam- 
den, and held a conference with a large number of the citizens 
of the town, who were called together for that purpose. Mat- 
ters concerning the memorial and its unveiling were freely and 
fully discussed, and at the close of the conference it was decided 
on the part of the Camden members of the conference to call 
another meeting of the town for the further consideration of 
ways and means. At this town meeting, held during the follow- 
ing week, an additional appropriation of ^500.00 was made for 
the Conway celebration, and besides a general committee, com- 
mittees were appointed on reception, entertainment and decora- 
tion. It was understood that the arrangements for the services 
connected with the unveiling of the memorial should be made 
by the Loyal Legion. 

An early communication was sent to Rear-Admiral R. D. 
Evans, Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Fleet, and to 
this communication the following answer, dated U. S. Flagship 
" Maine," North River, New York, May 26, 1906, was received : 

I have received your letter of the 23d inst. regarding the dedication of a 
memorial to William Conway, quartermaster United States Navy, at Cam- 
den, Me. , sometime during the summer, and asking when any of the ships 
of the Atlantic Fleet will be in the vicinity. 

In reply I have to state that I shall take great pleasure in adding to the 
ceremony of dedication in any way that I can, and will visit Camden any 
day during the week ending September i, with at least eight of our large 
ships and probably twelve, if that will be convenient to your Commandery 
and to the town of Camden, and I shall be very glad to have as large a del- 
egation of officers and men present to witness the ceremony as is practicable. 

Subsequently, the inquiry was submitted to Rear-Admiral 
Evans whether the regulations of the navy would allow the firing 
of a salute on the part of the battleships in connection with the 



unveiling of the Conway memorial. To this inquiry the follow- 
ing reply, dated U. S. Flagship "Maine," Rockport, Mass., July 
1 6, 1906, was received: 

Replying to your letter of July 9 relative to firing a salute at Camden on 
August 30, in connection with the ceremony of unveiling a memorial to 
Quartermaster Conway, the Commander-in-Chief has made inquiry at the 
Navy Department, and it agrees with him that a salute would be appropri- 
ate ; and he directs me to inform you that he will fire a national salute of 
twenty-one guns on that day, and he will arrange the details as to signals, 
etc., after a consultation with you or with the committee upon his arrival at 

President Roosevelt, who was invited to be present at the 
unveiling of the Conway memorial, sent a response which will 
be found on another page in connection with the account of the 
proceedings at the celebration on August 30. 

Hon. Charles J. Bonaparte, Secretary of the Navy, was also 
invited to be present. To the invitation, the Secretary made 
answer, dated Navy Department, Washington, July 5, 1906, as 
follows : 

I am in receipt of your very kind invitation to attend the ceremonies at 
Camden, Me., on August 30, in connection with the dedication of the Con- 
way memorial. I am not able to say definitely that I shall be able to be 
present on that occasion, but if I am in the vicinity at the time mentioned, it 
will give me great pleasure to participate in the celebration as you suggest. 

Subsequently the following letter was received from Secre- 
tary Bonaparte : 

I am in receipt of your letter of the 2d inst. and regret sincerely to be com- 
pelled to say that I find it will be impossible for me to be at Camden, Me., 
the last of August, owing to the review which is to take place at Oyster Bay 
the first of September. 

Rear-Admiral Evans, to an invitation to make an address in 
connection with the services at Camden on August 30, sent the 
following response dated U. S. Flagship <* Maine," Navy Yard, 
N'ew York, June 28, 1906 : 

dmiral Evans is in receipt of your letter of the 25th inst., stating that 
. -gust 30 had been definitely fixed as the date on which the celebration at 


Camden will occur. The squadron of eight battleships, and probably six 
destroyers, will be there on that date, and Admiral Evans will be pleased to 
attend the ceremonies, together with other officers. 

He desires me to say, however, that he does not consider it an occasion 
on which he should make a speech ; that he thinks his presence there, with 
the fleet, will be sufficient, as far as the naval part of the ceremonies are 
concerned, and that the speech-making may more appropriately be done by 
the prominent men of Maine. 

Rear-Admiral Albert S. Barker (retired), wrote to the 
Recorder of the Maine Commandery, August 19, 1906, as 
follows : 

I note that there is to be a celebration in honor of William Conway, who 
at the beginning of the Civil War refused to haul down the flag at Pensacola. 

I was attached to the frigate "Mississippi," on blockading duty in the 
Gulf of Mexico, and was present when the commendatory letter from the 
Navy Department to Conway was read in the presence of the officers and 
crew of that vessel. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Conway was enthu- 
siastically cheered. I have been under the impression that the medal was 
presented at the same time, but I am not sure of this. Unfortunately my 
diary was lost in the "Mississippi" when that vessel was destroyed in the 
Port Hudson fight. 

The Admiral of the Navy, George Dewey, was one of the officers of the 
" Mississippi," and must have been present at the time referred to, his rank 
being that of master, corresponding to the present rank of junior lieutenant ; 
but in those days the master navigated the ship. 

Conway was our signal quartermaster, who under the master had charge 
of the navigation stores. ■ Dewey used to say that it was more difficult to get 
those stores for use than it would be if Conway owned them himself. 

Conway was very modest in speaking of the Pensacola incident, but he 
declared that if, when he refused to haul down the flag, there were any tears 
in his eyes, as the newspapers claimed, it was not because he was so affected 
sentimentally, but because he was mad or had a cold. 

Rear-Admiral Henry Erben (retired) was stationed at the Pensacola Navy 
Yard at the outbreak of the war, and I have often heard him tell of a knock- 
down fight he had with one of the southern officers. 

When I hauled down my flag on the thirty-first of March, a year and a half 
ago nearly, I mentioned the Conway case in a short address which I made 
to the crew of the " Kearsarge." I had no idea then that a monument would 
be erected to the old sailor's memory. I hope you will have a fine day for 
the ceremonies, and that a lot of blue-jackets will be present. 

After the reception of this letter from Rear-Admiral Barker, 
who was invited to be present at the celebration but could not 


attend, a letter was sent to Admiral Dewey, inviting him to 
honor the occasion by his presence. The following reply to this 
invitation was received from the Admiral's secretary, dated at 
Washington, August 15, 1906: 

Admiral Dewey directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your recent 
letter, and to express his very great regret at being unable to accept the 
invitation you so kindly extend to him, to attend the unveiling of a memorial 
in honor of William Conway, on the 30th inst. 

Later Admiral Dewey was asked to add his recollections of 
Conway, and he responded October 8, 1906, as follows : 

It gives me very great pleasure to comply with your request for some of 
my recollections of William Conway, in whose memory a celebration was 
recently held by the Loyal Legion of Maine. 

I first knew Conway in May, 1861, at which time I was navigating officer 
of the old steam frigate "Mississippi," and he the signal quartermaster, his 
duty as such placing him under my immediate orders, so that I necessarily 
saw him almost constantly. He was a typical Yankee man-of-war' s-man 
from Maine, tall, thin, with a nose like Wellington's, and, like all men-of- 
war' s-men from that section, very intelligent. 

I was present on the quarter-deck of the " Mississippi " when a beautiful 
gold medal, presented by some of the citizens of California, was handed to 
him by the captain in the presence of all the officers and crew. About that 
time I asked Conway if he positively refused to haul down the colors when 
the Pensacola Navy Yard was surrendered. He said, in a modest, quiet 
way, with a touch of his cap, "I didn't refuse, sir, I said, 'I can't haul 
down those colors, Mr. Renshaw,' and he excused me." And his version 
of this incident was in exact accordance with what I should have expected 
of Conway, who was at all times most dutiful and subordinate. 

Later, when I had become executive officer of the " Mississippi," and she, 
with the other vessels of Farragut's fleet, had passed the forts below New 
Orleans, in April, 1862, I looked about at the other vessels and saw that 
the "Hartford," "Brooklyn," "Richmond," and others were firing broad- 
sides, with Old Glory at each mast-head. Day was just breaking, and as 
we had been making a night attack it had not occurred to me to have the 
flags hoisted. Conway was standing near me, and as he had charge of the 
flags, I said, "Get our flags up quickly, Conway." He replied, "They're 
up there, sir." Without waiting for instructions he had hoisted them up in 
a ball, ready to be broken out at a moment's notice, thus showing more 
forethought in that respect than either the captain or myself. 

On a certain twenty-second of February, after the abolition of the grog 
ration in the navy, I saw Conway, who had been in the habit of taking his 
grog twice a day for many years. Touching his cap, he said to me, " It's a 
mighty dry birthday for poor old George Washington, Mr. Dewey." 


A letter was sent to Rear- Admiral Henry Erben (retired), 
inviting him also to be present at the Conway celebration. The 
following answer, dated at Jamestown, R. I., August 12, 1906, 
so full of interesting reminiscences, is a valuable contribution to 
our knowledge concerning the Conway incident : 

I am greatly obliged to your Commandery for its invitation to be present 
on the 30th inst. at the memorial service in honor of William Conway, late 
quartermaster in the navy. I well remember the incidents leading up to the 
event for which Conway's name is to be commemorated. It is one of the most 
interesting episodes of the times from January, 1861, to the end of the war. 
But little is known now of the Pensacola days, or the surrender of the navy 
yard there, or of the heroism and patriotism of the bluejackets, and of Con- 
way in particular. 

It is a long story, too long to write, and I know that to tell it would 
require more time than could be given at such a ceremony as that of August 
30. I have always thought that the conduct of William Conway on that 
memorable day, January 12, 1861, should have been recognized by our gov- 
ernment in some fitting way. He took his life in his hands when he refused 
to haul down the American flag. The order was given by an officer with a 
United States commission in his pocket. He was surrounded by a crazed 
crowd, made so by the surrender of the navy yard, a most important depot. 
Conway was threatened to be cut down, but he still refused to haul down 
the flag he had served under for years in the navy. He was put under 
arrest, confined for a short time, and then sent off with the other bluejackets 
to the United States ship "Supply," on which I was serving as a lieutenant. 

Conway was a hero. When so many about him were disloyal, and when 
it required true courage to remain loyal, he knew his duty and was not 
afraid to perform it. I believe Conway will enjoy the distinction of being 
the only enlisted man to have a monument erected to him alone. He 
deserved it most surely. You will have Admiral Evans' fleet there to com- 
memorate the event. I hardly think you will need me. Then, I think this 
all should have the official endorsement of the Navy Department, and this it 
has by the presence of the fleet. 

The place selected for the Conway memorial in Camden is 
the schoolhouse lot on the corner of School and Elm Streets, and 
opposite the Congregational church. Much time was given to 
the selection of a suitable boulder. The one finally chosen, as 
meeting the recognized conditions, was taken from the roadside 
on Ogier's Hill and hauled to its designated place on skids. Not 
far from sixty horses were required in hauling the boulder to the 
schoolhouse lot. Early in August, after the boulder had been 



placed in position, the ground around it was carefully graded, 
and the bronze tablet, which was made by Paul E. Cabaret & 
Co., New York, was affixed to the boulder. The memorial was 
then covered, and so remained until the unveiling on August 30. 

About one o'clock on the afternoon of the day preceding the 
unveiling of the memorial, seven battleships of Admiral Evans' 
fleet, viz : the " Maine," " Missouri," " Kentucky," " Kearsarge," 
" Indiana," " Iowa " and ** Alabama," anchored in the bay off the 
harbor of Camden, and later came the destroyers *' Worden," 
'* Whipple," " Lawrence," " Truxton " and " McDonough." The 
day was one of singular brightness and beauty, and the scene as 
the battleships came up the bay, and dropped their anchors in 
front of the town, was one of patriotic interest, and especially 
by reason of the errand upon which they had come. The vari- 
ous vessels of the fleet were soon in communication with the 
town, and during the afternoon, and the next forenoon, they 
were open to the inspection of visitors. Many of the citizens of 
Camden, and not a few of the strangers who had already found 
their way thither, availed themselves of this opportunity ; and 
the launches of the ships were in constant use between the har- 
bor and the visiting vessels of the North Atlantic Fleet. 

Early in the evening the band of the flagship came ashore, 
and gave a most enjoyable concert in front of the Bay View 
House. Later, the various vessels of the fleet flashed their 
powerful search-lights over the waters of the harbor, and on the 
mountains back of the town. This electrical display was a very 
fitting introduction to the eagerly awaited celebration of the 
following day. 

The morning of August 30 opened with a heavy fog, which 
during the night had drifted in from the ocean. But as the day 
advanced the fog gradually lifted, though it shut out the sun 
during the forenoon. The town throughout was in holiday 
dress. Almost every store and house was elaborately deco- 
rated. Early in the day it was apparent that the celebration had 
attracted a great throng of spectators. The streets were crowded 
with strangers. From early morning they came in every direction, 


making their way by team, trolley, boat or on foot. The 
Camden Herald, in its excellent report of the celebration, said : 
" It was the biggest crowd ever in Camden, and when the cele- 
bration was at its height fully 10,000 people were on the streets." 

Toward noon the fog had lifted considerably. As early as 
half-past twelve one company of bluejackets from each of the 
battleships had been landed. Rear- Admiral Evans and his 
staff, Rear-Admiral Davis and his staff, followed ; also seven 
officers from each battleship. A staff officer from the fleet had 
gone over the route of the procession on the previous day, and 
it was understood that it would take thirty-five minutes for the 
procession to reach the Camden Trotting Park in which the lit- 
erary exercises connected with the celebration were to be held. 
As Admiral Evans had announced to the committee that in 
order to get his fleet out of the bay before dark he would sail 
promptly at four o'clock in the afternoon, it was necessary that 
the procession should start at one o'clock sharp ; and the vari- 
ous bodies having a part in the parade were notified to be ready 
to start at that time. 

The seven companies of sailors from the battleships were 
drawn up on Bay View Street, and the town and corporation 
officers, Governor Cobb and his staff, the officers of the fleet, 
the members of the Loyal Legion and the Grand Army, were 
directed to be in line on Chestnut Street, the right of both col- 
umns being on Limerock Street. The band of the flagship pre- 
ceded the seven companies from the battleships, and the band 
from the National Home at Togus preceded the Loyal Legion, 

At precisely one o'clock the band from the flagship struck up 
an inspiring air, and the procession started up Limerock Street. 
The town officers were in carriages, as also were the Governor 
and his staff, the officers of the fleet and the members of the 
Loyal Legion. The route of the procession was through Lime- 
rock Street, Belmont Avenue, School, Elm, Main, Mountain, 
Trim, Washington and Alden Streets to the park. A more 
favorable day, both for those who were in the procession and for 
the thousands who witnessed it, lining the streets on either side, 


could not have been selected. The bluejackets were enthusi- 
astically greeted all along the way, as also were the officers of 
the fleet, Governor Cobb and his staff and the veterans of the 
Civil War. 

Just before the procession reached the park, the sun appeared 
for a short time, as if to lend added brilliancy to the scene. At 
the park, the sailors were drawn up in front of the grandstand 
without breaking their ranks. The officers from the fleet, aside 
from the two admirals and their staffs, were conducted to seats 
on the grandstand, as also were the members of the Loyal 
Legion and the Grand Army, together with the specially invited 
guests, prominent among whom were the two nieces of William 
Conway, Miss Julia Conway, of Camden, and Mrs. Louise E. 
Robbins, of Thomaston. The rest of the grandstand was occu- 
pied by representatives of the homes in Camden and their guests. 
At the speakers' stand, which had been erected in front of the 
center of the grandstand, were seated Rear-Admiral Evans and 
his staff, Rear-Admiral Davis and his staff. Governor Cobb and 
his staff, the officers of the town and of the Loyal Legion, also 
those who were to have a part in the public service that was to 
follow. In the park itself a large number of people were 
assembled, occupying all the favorable places that could be 
found for hearing the speakers. It was estimated that about 
four thousand people were present. 

At precisely quarter before two o'clock, Mr. Thomas A. 
Hunt, of Camden, who had been requested to preside over the 
services at the park, called the great assembly to order, and in 
a clear voice, easily heard by all evidently, delivered the follow- 
ing address of welcome : 


" Residents of Camden : — This day we feel will be marked as 
one of the most important in the history of our town, and, com- 
ing as it does at the beginning of the twentieth century, we 
trust it presages for us a century of advancement and progress. 
Never before has such a notable gathering of distinguished men 


honored us with their presence, and to Captain Johnson, of Lib- 
erty, Me., we are extremely grateful for bringing to the attention 
of that noble body of men, the Loyal Legion, the heroic action, 
during the Civil War, of our townsman, William Conway, whom 
he has rightly styled ' A forgotten Camden hero ; ' for strange 
as it may appear, Conway had been forgotten even in his native 
town. As an officer of your town, it is my pleasing duty to ex- 
tend, for you, to the strangers within our gates, a most hearty 

" Officers and members of the Loyal Legion of the Command- 
ery of Maine, we welcome you to our town with feelings of 
gratitude for the interest you have manifested in us, by present- 
ing to us the tablet, which will perpetuate the memory of the 
patriotic act of our townsman, and only wish we could do more 
to show our appreciation of your most generous act. But 
placed as this tablet is in one of the most prominent positions 
in our village, where all who enter may read the inscription, and 
on our school ground, where all our scholars, during the most 
receptive period of youth, will unconsciously learn that inscrip- 
tion, it will become a living monument to your Order ; genera- 
tions yet to come will repeat the words inscribed thereon, and 
the Maine Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal 
Legion of the United States will not be forgotten. 

" We extend our welcome to you, the Governor of our State 
and staff, and would express our sincere thanks to you for being 
present and assisting in this day's celebration, realizing the 
many duties you have to perform, and that we are but a small 
town among the many over which you preside. 

"And to you, Rear-Admiral R. D. Evans, of the United 
States Navy, Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, with 
Rear-Admiral C. H. Davis, your officers and men, we open our 
gates and bid you welcome. 

" Never before have we had the pleasure of viewing the battle- 
ships anchored off our harbor, and we are to a certain extent 
appalled by your presence, realizing what a small part we are of 
the vast coast of the United States, which it is your duty to 


protect, how many places you have visited, cities you have been 
entertained in, and consequently the honor you confer on us by 
lending us your presence here to-day We wish that your stay 
could be longer so that in some way we might express to you 
the gratitude and pleasure we feel, and hope that some day you 
may visit us again. 

" Yet, as you sail the ocean, think that from that ocean, your 
home, come the showers which fall on the Camden Hills, sup- 
plying her streams with water to fill the lake, that lake the res- 
ervoir which furnishes the power to run her mills, making the 
prosperity of our town ; that we must then remember you ; and 
that we hope you may carry away some pleasant recollections of 
us, bearing in mind that we are a part of New England, the 
trundle-bed of freedom, 'the cradle of Liberty.' 

" Again, I say, Camden bids you welcome ! " 

At the close of his address of welcome, Mr. Hunt called upon 
the Rev. Dr. John S, Sewall, of Bangor, Chaplain of the Loyal 
Legion, to offer prayer. 

*' Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst 
formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to ever- 
lasting thou art God. Thou hast made all things, and all things 
depend upon thee. 

" We therefore invoke thy blessing and thy favor this day, that 
we may worthily dedicate this monument to patriotism, may 
worthily commemorate the name of one who loved his country 
and did his duty. 

" May this memorial thus consecrated be a constant inspira- 
tion, leading all who shall behold it to larger reverence for their 
country and more earnest endeavors in the service of God and 
man. May thy blessing rest on this town and its people. 

*' Bless these veterans, scarred in many a conflict fought to 
save their country. 

" Bless our army and navy. May officers and men, who have 
devoted themselves to the defence of their country be examples 


of the highest integrity and honor. Protect our sailors from 
the dangers of the sea, and from the worse dangers of tempta- 
tion in port. And may they choose for their pilot through life 
him who chose his first disciples from the men of the sea. 

" May thy special favor rest upon our President and his coun- 
sellors, and upon our Governor and our beloved state. And 
may our land be filled with peace and our people with righteous- 
ness. Amen." 

Mr. Hunt then announced that a letter had been received 
from the President of the United States, and that this letter 
would be read by the Recorder of the Loyal Legion, Major 
Henry S. Burrage, of Togus. The letter was as follows : 

PRESIDENT Roosevelt's letter. 

" Sir : — I wish it were in my power to be present at the time 
when the erection of the Conway Memorial is to be celebrated. 
As this is not possible, will you let me express, through you, 
my appreciation of the action taken in erecting this memorial ? 
Conway stands as typical of the best among those admirable 
enlisted men of the army and navy to whom this country can 
never pay too great homage. The fidelity and patriotism of the 
sailor, shown under the most trying and difficult circumstances 
when his commanding officers proved faithless, should be graven 
on the hearts, not only of our people as a whole, but especially 
upon those of our people who fill the regiments of our army and 
man the ships of our navy. I again congratulate you upon thus 
commemorating his sturdy loyalty." 

The ringing words of this letter, giving forceful expression to 
the President's hearty endorsement of this recognition of Con- 
way's " fidelity and patriotism," and his equally hearty apprecia- 
tion of the fidelity and patriotism of the "admirable enlisted 
men of the army and navy," awakened loud and long continued 


Governor Cobb was then introduced, and delivered the follow- 
ing address : 


" Nearly half a century has passed since the act occurred which 
this day and these ceremonies commemorate. 

** Just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, William Conway, 
occupying a subordinate position in the United States Navy, 
refused to.lower the American colors at the command of those 
whom he knew to be enemies of the Union ; and to this beauti- 
ful town, his home, have come now the members of Maine's 
Loyal Legion to dedicate a tablet of enduring bronze that shall 
tell to later generations the story of William Conway's concep- 
tion of his duty and loyalty to his country and his flag. The 
citizens of Camden, animated by a praiseworthy desire to be 
sharers of his fame, have made generous contribution to the 
monument that shall perpetuate it, and the government of the 
United States, in recognition of that spirit of patriotism which 
ever was and ever will be our country's real defence, has assem- 
bled here these splendid ships-of-war, a fitting tribute of honor 
and respect from that navy which this man adorned and served 
so well. 

** And to all present the State of Maine extends a hearty and 
grateful welcome. The affection of our people is the steadfast 
possession of every man who went from Maine to uphold the 
integrity of the Union, and the State delights to receive within 
her borders the representatives of a navy in whose glorious tra- 
ditions she claims and shares a heritage. 

" The survivors of a great war are the keepers of its best and 
tenderest memories ; and we who through their sacrifices and 
the sacrifices of their fallen comrades enjoy the blessings of a 
united, free and prosperous country, can well support and 
applaud their efforts to preserve the name and deed of this 
Maine sailor who in his country's service and in time of peril 
saw only his duty and obeyed its call. 


" The tablet dedicated here but repeats the simple lesson, ever 
old, yet ever new, that patriotism, courage, sense of duty and 
faithfulness to trust are qualities that have not yet made their 
last appeal to American manhood and womanhood ; and that 
these qualities may endure in the hearts of all our people to 
increase a reverence for order and the law must be the wish of 
every true lover of his country and of every believer in her 
institutions and her destiny." 

Governor Cobb had rightly caught the spirit of the occasion, 
and as he spoke the chief magistrate of Maine admirably voiced 
the interest which the people of the State manifested in the 

To Major-General J. L. Chamberlain, the most distinguished 
of Maine's general officers in the Civil War, and one of the 
earliest Companions of the Loyal Legion, had been assigned the 
part of telling the story of William Conway's refusal to haul 
down the flag at the Pensacola Navy Yard. He was introduced 
by Mr. Hunt, and spoke as follows : 


•' We come here to commemorate not a deed done in the body, 
but an act of soul ; the refusal of a manly spirit to bend the 
body to the dishonoring of his country's flag. An act, most truly 
it was, and one of highest character in motive and significance. 

" Yet it was well-nigh lost from current thought. On-moving 
life absorbs its heroic age. The power of a great deed passes 
into the strength of a people ; but too often the deed itself sinks 
from thought, except in some great moment or exalted mood. 

"To-day, after many years, we come to testify that time has 
no power to dim the recognition of an act of lofty loyalty and 
heroic courage in the nation's name ; and to set up a memorial 
that passing life may take cheer, seeing what it is capable of in 
' the times that try men's souls.' 

"The generation around us, enjoying the deep peace and wide 
prosperity of our country, and proud of her power, can know 
but little of that passage of momentous peril when mad passion 


and tumultuous strife rent the nation's heart. Nor do present 
conditions permit the circumstances attending this act to be set 
forth in terms realistic enough to enable all to appreciate fully 
the sharpness of the test, the loftiness of the resolution which 
rose to meet it. 

" The story in words is simple. The scene is the United States 
Navy Yard at Pensacola, one of the most important and best 
appointed in the country. The day is the twelfth of January, 
1 86 1, — two days after some citizens of Florida had declared 
that State out of the Union. The occasion is the appearance on 
that day, of two gentlemen, — one of them formerly an officer of 
the United States Navy, — claiming to be commissioners of the 
State of Florida, and supported by a large force of armed men, 
demanding the surrender of that station with all its munitions 
and belongings. 

" It was a surprising demand. The United States was not at 
war with the State of Florida ; and this ground was never part 
of the State of Florida, but was a port and naval station of the 
United States more than twenty years before Florida was made 
a State of the Union, — that territory having passed by the 
treaty of 1 8 1 9 directly from the sovereignty of Spain to that of 
the United States. 

" But the demand seems to have stupified the captain com- 
manding this station. The disloyal sentiment and excitement in 
that part of the country were well-known to him. Exhibitions of 
it were rife within his own precincts. Warnings, moreover, and 
positive orders to be vigilant for the protection of this post had 
been sent to him from Washington. He paid little attention to 
either facts or orders, and the hostile force was allowed to enter 
the grounds without resistance, although he had a company of 
faithful marines and some loyal workmen at hand ; and two 
ships of war under his orders were lying within range. Upon 
demand of the commissioners he at once surrendered, and 
turned over to the invading force the Pensacola Navy Yard with 
all its stores and munitions, and left its officers and men to be 
treated as prisoners of war. 


" The order to haul down the flag of the United States was 
passed from the executive officer to the senior heutenant, — both 
of them open sympathizers with the usurpers, — and came to 
William Conway, a veteran quartermaster of the United States 
Navy, who, receiving the order, straightened himself up in body 
like his spirit, and to the face of his official superiors gave this 
answer : * That is the flag of my country. I have given my 
life to it. I will not haul it down ! ' 

" They threatened to cut him down for disobedience, but he 
stood fast in his refusal. He was placed in arrest, for further 
dealing. Other less noble hands were found, and the old flag 
came down. The face of high noon beheld it darkened in the 

" Of the officers who were actors here, the two subordinates 
referred to, — a captain and a lieutenant of the navy, — speedily 
entered the Confederate service ; the surrendering captain, tried 
by a naval court martial for neglect of duty, disobedience of 
orders and conduct unbecoming an officer, was found guilty of 
all, and mildly punished by five years' suspension from command 
and a public reprimand by the Secretary of the Navy. 

" The court, moved by the testimony as to the conduct of 
William Conway earnestly recommended to the department that 
a suitable mark of official approbation be bestowed on him for 
his manly and patriotic behavior. This was fittingly done in 
general orders published throughout the navy. A testimonial 
of admiration, with a commemorative gold medal, was also sent 
to Conway by New England men in California, and was pre- 
sented to him accompanied with a highly commendatory personal 
letter from the Secretary of the Navy, on the quarter-deck of 
the warship * Mississippi,' amidst the enthusiastic plaudits of 
the whole ship's company. He continued in his station in the 
navy quietly and unnoticed, as he also died, and was buried in a 
soon forgotten grave in Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

"It is, as I said, a simple story. The actor in it did not dream 
he was a hero ; did not imagine he was to be noticed, except for 
punishment for disobedience of orders. He was not acting for 


the eyes of men, but from the behest of a manly, single soul 
daring to be true amidst every circumstance dark and forbidding. 

" But darkness could not hold that diamond record ; no name- 
less grave hide that manhood. We behold him lifted up in 
light, for the eyes of men ; radiating light, for our admiration 
and inspiration. To-day, the man and his flag stand on high 
together. Dear as he held it, it holds him to-day. 

" What is a flag ? It is the symbol of a faith, an authority, a 
power. To be held aloft, to be seen and known, to be defended, 
vindicated, followed, borne forward, in the name and token of 
its right. When the flag is that of country, and a free country, 
it enfolds deeper meaning. It stands not only for a faith, but 
for a covenant ; it is sacred, not only as the symbol of authority 
and power, but of great trusts for human well-being, for right 
and freedom, and all the sanctities of life. It is dear, not only 
for what has gone out from it for protection and peace, but for 
what has gone into it of toil and treasure, of precious blood and 
tears, of overpassing devotion and sacrifice. It stands for the 
all-comprehending social order which gives value to our work 
and our life. Hence among human rights, we hold that of 
country supreme. For this we reverence and love the flag and 
are sensitive of its honor at the cost, if need be, of our lives. 

" If we can take in the reach of this thought, we can appreci- 
ate the conduct of William Conway. Note the marks of it ! 
Honor ; truth to trust ; keeping of faith ; loyalty to principle ; 
right reason discriminating among conflicting orders ; determin- 
ing the rank of pretending authorities and of his own present 
duties. He could not legally have been blamed if he had 
obeyed the orders of his appointed superiors still in the commis- 
sion of the United States. But higher thoughts held his heart. 
It was not the simple hauling down of the flag. That came 
down with tender glory at every sunset. But it was the dis- 
honoring of the flag, emblem of his country's honor, which he 
would lend no hand to. He disobeyed orders, to obey the 
greater covenant with his country ! This is what I called a 
lofty loyalty. 


" Then, too, it was heroic courage. Daring for the right, over- 
ruling the commonplace of obedience to orders and the long 
habit which years of discipline had made a second nature. It was 
no light ordeal to encounter what he did. Around him, — except 
the little band of United States marines — spiritless, paltering 
shapes of men ; confronting him, overwhelming hostile forces in 
impudent, insulting array ; above him, commissioned superiors 
irresolute and weak, or pledged in heart to his country's enemies, 
having power to cut him down for hesitating at orders, — this one 
man, William Conway, born in far-away Maine, taking life from 
the breath of your mountain and your sea, — this one hero of 
the situation, the superior of his commissioned superiors, by the 
manhood that was in him constituted the superior of the whole 
motley crowd around, — he alone refusing to be the creature of 
his environment, because he was the creature of his God ! 

"Think you we can confer honor on him ? He it is who has 
done us honor, and we tell the world, tell the eternal mountains 
and seas and skies that he is ours. That is our glory ; all the 
rest is his. 

" Most worthily has his native town set here her kindred rock 
for time-enduring token. Most fittingly, the Commandery of 
Maine, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, 
inscribed on an imperishable tablet this consummate loyalty. 
To claim part in this remembrance, you gather here, glad dwell- 
ers in this region of his birthplace, though never having seen his 
form, and knowing the fashion of his face only by the radiance 
of his act ; you, veterans of the costly vindication of the peo- 
ple's right to be ; and you, from afar, bringing the response of 
every high heart of the world. 

''Drawn hither also are our potentates ; you, honored Governor, 
bearing the salutation of the State ; you, makers and messengers 
of the regenerated nation's peace ; and you, representing her 
power, in the high command and manning of these mighty ships 
of war, to whom especially is committed the honor of the flag 
on all seas and stations, bringing here your young men for this 
high lesson. 


" Now aloft on every topmost pinnacle runs for this token the 
reverenced, redeemed old flag ; and the authority, the dignity, 
the majesty of the United States of America voices in the 
thunder of her guns of power what she accounts the man who, 
alone, amidst the threatening, the fearing, the forsaking, the 
surrendering, stood for her honor I " 

The last speaker was Acting-Master John O. Johnson, whose 
paper read before the Loyal Legion, December 6, 1905, first 
called the attention of the Commandery to Camden's " Forgot- 
ten Hero." At once he captured the great audience by a story, 
and in a brief, but graphic address he fittingly closed the ser- 
vices at the park. 

CAPTAIN Johnson's address. 

" While listening with profound interest to the gentlemen who 
have preceded me, my thoughts have turned back to the ques- 
tion propounded so long ago by the patriarch Job, ' If a man 
die shall he live again ? ' That question has never yet been 
answered in a manner satisfactory to all, and it never will be. 
But if the question had been this : * If a man's name die, shall 
it live again .? ' I think from the events taking place here to-day 
that the question can be answered in a manner satisfactory to 
all — that if a man's name die, it may live again. 

"A little more than one year ago, the name of William Conway 
was dead — dead to all intents and purposes, and not to his 
country alone, but to his native town. I had known him before 
the war, and the events at the Pensacola Navy Yard in 1861 
had made a deep impression on my mind. But after those 
events I had lost sight of him. Having written an article in 
relation to the Pensacola affair for publication in the Rockland 
Courier-Gazette, for the completion of my story I came to Cam- 
den to learn if I could what his end had been, having no doubt 
but that I should find what I required. My first disappoint- 
ment was when I drove into the town past the beautiful monu- 
ment bearing the names of the country's defenders, who went 


from Camden and died in the service. I scanned these names 
closely, but I did not find Conway's name among the number. 
I then went into the town, and there commenced an inquiry 
concerning him. To my great surprise I could find no one who 
had known him, or had ever heard of him, till at length a friend 
of mine, a member of Cobb Post, G. A. R., who had lived in 
the town thirty-five years, and had not heard of the old sailor, 
told me there was a lady named Conway living in Camden, and 
kindly took me to her place. She proved to be a niece of 
William Conway, and from her I learned that she and another 
niece, Mrs. L. E. Robbins, of Thomaston, were all the relatives 
remaining ; that the medal given to Conway was in the posses- 
sion of Mrs. Robbins ; and that she had heard Conway died in 
New York in 1865. 

"But the name of him who was dead is very much alive to-day. 
It is on the lips of every person in Camden who can speak the 
English language, and it is engraven on a memorial that will 
last as long as granite and bronze shall endure. 

" The action taken by the Loyal Legion and the town of Cam- 
den in thus honoring the name of this old hero is because he 
honored the old flag. His name in turn honors us, for the 
names of the Loyal Legion and the town of Camden will go 
down the ages side by side with that of William Conway, thus 
forming a triumvirate of loyalty to the flag of our country. 

" The people of Camden builded better than they knew when 
they placed the memorial boulder at the corner of a public thor- 
oughfare, and in a schoolhouse yard. With the tablet in such a 
position, he who runs may read, and the school children, not 
only of this generation but of generations to come, will have 
instilled into their young minds patriotism and loyalty to the 
flag in a school of example. 

"What is more thrilling than the tale of the humble but sturdy 
old sailor, standing almost alone, faithful among the faithless ! 
When the order came to haul down the flag of his country at 
the behest of a traitor disgracing the uniform of an officer in 
the United States Navy, he indignantly refused, and the traitor 


officer had to perform the dastardly deed himself. The flag 
came down in disgrace, but there were loyal hearts on board 
the ' Wyandotte ' and the sloop-of-war ' Supply ; ' and as they 
saw the flag come down at the navy yard, up went every inch 
of bunting on board of those two vessels in defiance of the dis- 
graceful act. The gallant Lieutenant Slemmer of the army, 
who had taken possession of Fort Pickens but two days before, 
not finding any flagstaff on which to hoist a flag, hung the Stars 
and Stripes out over the outer walls of the fort to show the 
rebels at Pensacola that the old flag still lived ; and it continued 
to live, though during four long years of terrible war it was car- 
ried through fire and flood, its folds bathed in tears and blood, 
till at the last it waved triumphantly over every inch of a reuni- 
ted country, and from the masthead of every United States 
ship, on every sea, with all the stars floating in the blue. 

Over land of freedom 

Float forever on ; 
Emblem of a nation, 

Gift of Washington. 
Hail the glorious standard 

Of the brave and true ; 
All the stars are floating 

In the blue. 

" Do the younger people of this generation comprehend what 
it cost in blood and in tears to keep the old flag in the air during 
that long struggle for a nation's life ? In that great conflict, 
three hundred thousand brave men, to keep the old flag 
flying and preserve us a nation, went down in death, leaving 
more than a million of widows, orphans and dependent parents 
in tears. Let us honor the old flag 1 Let us all off hats when 
it goes by ! 

Hats off ! 
Along the street there comes 
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums, 
A flash of color beneath the sky ; 

Hats off ! 
The flag is passing by. 


Blue and crimson and white it shines, 
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines. 

Hats off ! 
The colors before us fly ; 
But more than the flag is passing by. 

Sea fights and land fights, grim and great, 
Fought to make and to save the state. 
Weary marches, and sinking ships ; 
Cheers of victory on dying lips. 

Days of plenty and days of peace ; 
March of a strong land's swift increase ; 
Equal justice, right and law. 
Stately honor, and reverent awe. 

Sign of a nation, great and strong 

To ward her people from foreign wrong ; 

Pride and glory and honor, all 

Live in the colors to stand or fall. 

Hats off ! 
Along the street there comes 
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums ; 
And loyal hearts are beating high. 

Hats off ! 
The flag is passing by ! ^ " 

Before the two admirals and their staffs left the platform, the 
gold medal, presented to Conway on the deck of the frigate 
"Mississippi" in 1861, was exhibited to them and to the other 
officers of the fleet. 

The procession was promptly reformed, and soon, in the same 
order as in the earlier part of the afternoon, was on the way to 
the Conway memorial, where the unveiling followed. An 
immense crowd filled the streets in the vicinity of the memorial. 
Good-naturedly, as the procession approached, the crowd gave 
way to the bluejackets, and they were soon halted on School 
and Elm Streets. Near the memorial, the carriages of Governor 
Cobb and his staff, and those of the two admirals and the other 
officers of the fleet, drew up. The members of the Loyal 
Legion grouped themselves in the immediate rear of the boulder. 

* H. H. Bennett in Youth's Companion. 


General John T. Richards, Commander of the Loyal Legion, in 
a voice that could be heard far out in the crowd filling the 
neighboring streets, read the inscription that had been placed 
on the boulder, reciting Conway's heroic conduct at the Pensa- 
cola Navy Yard, which the memorial commemorates. 















At a signal given by General Richards at the close of the 
reading of the inscription, two members of the Loyal Legion — 
General Charles Hamlin, son of Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, Vice- 
President of the United States, 1861-1865, holding in his hands 
one of the ropes used in the unveiling, and Acting-Master John 
O. Johnson, the other, — attended to the duty that had been 
assigned to them, and at once the large American fiag^ which 
had covered the boulder was suspended in the air above it. 
Meanwhile the battleships far out in the bay were thundering 
forth a national salute of twenty-one guns. No bluejacket of 
our navy had ever before received such an honor. 

It was now five minutes of three — five minutes ahead of the 
designated time — as the officers in command of the sailors 
from the fleet shouted the word of command, and the seven 
companies from the battleships started down the street on their 
way to the landing. At four o'clock Rear-Admiral Evans* fleet 

1 This flag was made during the Civil War by Helen Philbrook, a former resident of 
Camden, and had on it the same number of stars as the flag that Conway refused to haul 


was moving southward out of the bay, the new navy having paid 
its highest honors to a loyal sailor of the old navy. Admiral 
Evans did not leave, however, without an expression, both on 
the part of the Loyal Legion and the people of Camden, appre- 
ciative of all that he had done to make the celebration a worthy 

In front of the Bay View House, from four to five o'clock, 
the band from the National Home at Togus gave a concert 
which was greatly enjoyed by the people of Camden and the 
visitors the celebration had assembled. Gradually, as the day 
drew to a close, the crowd disappeared, and the Conway memo- 
rial in the schoolhouse yard was left to tell its story of fidelity 
and patriotism to the generations that are to come. 


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